Most people are looking for an easy way to get ahead. They think that if they replicate the same strategy as someone successful, all of their dreams will come true. Modeling the successful practices of others is a much better strategy than sitting on your butt and complaining, but you have to model the right habits. The same is true with the self publishing secrets of the ages.
Everybody thought that fiction author John Locke was a guru to look up to. His books sold like hotcakes and he was one of the first self published authors to reach one million copies sold. Surely, he knew the self publishing secrets of the ages. When he wrote a book about his success story, he touted blog posts and mass tweeting as the secret to his million sales. Thousands of authors, myself included, rushed to repeat Locke's purported habits. But it turned out, the blog posts and tweets were not the entire story.
It was later revealed that Locke paid for positive reviews on his books. And thus the first self publishing scandal was born. Add the purchased reviews to Locke being in the right place at the right time, when 99 cent books were favored in the Amazon algorithms, and Locke was able to make a killing.
I felt like an idiot. I rushed out there with thousands of other people to try to learn and copy the self publishing secrets of the ages. Instead, I was fooled by what was likely the best story John Locke ever wrote. Looking back on the situation, I realize that there were some self publishing gems I could read between the lines.
Locke had multiple books available in the same series. The success of any one book fed into the other books. Locke was working the system, sure, but his plan never would have worked if he had just one book. I've heard it time and time again that self published authors need to write a lot. Trying to promote one book is never the way to go in self publishing. Writing multiple books is hard work. So the real lesson here, the secret of all self publishing secrets, is that you need to work hard, put out a lot of books and make them the best they can be.
There's no shortcut here. Perhaps you get in at the right time when you're genre is hot or when Amazon happens to favor the way you're doing things. But that's all chance. You can't control the circumstances around your self publishing. All you can control is how much blood, sweat and tears you're willing to put in to write and publish multiple books.
Simply writing those books will not guarantee success, but without putting in the hard work to begin with, you're doomed to fail. There are dozens of authors who may try to sell you on their self publishing secrets of the ages. It could be a Twitter hack or a method for improving the SEO of your Amazon sales page. These tips and tricks are fun to try, but you should spend most of your time writing. Once you've gotten at least three if not closer to 10 books out into the world, you can start hunting for ways to make yourself a success. You'll have to work hard, but dedication and determination are the real secrets of the ages anyway.
Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.